Page 45 Review by Jonathan
Here comes the pain, dick-bag. I'll beat so hard your ancestors are gonna bleed!
No, not Stephen finally catching up with a standing order customer who has left us in lurch with several months of uncollected comics and just disappeared without a trace... but some choice dialogue contained within the latest excellent offering from the self-styled your chum, Mark Millar (your chum being his lettercol sign off which, combined with the chin stroking picture, always makes me chuckle) and his artsy Millarworld pals, in this case, beat-down artiste extraordinaire Leinil Yu.
There is much to be said for the limited series format Millar seems to be concentrating on these days, with NEMESIS, SUPERIOR, KICK-ASS and the forthcoming SECRET SERVICE plus the much anticipated JUPITERS CHILDREN. Firstly, it allows him to get his pick of artists like Yu, Romita Jr., Dave Gibbons and Frank Quitely schedule-wise, and secondly he can really concentrate on cramming in a ridiculous amount of ideas and action into each story without worrying about continuity. Also, given that last point, his cast of characters tend to be somewhat more... disposable... than those of Marvel and DC, which always helps up the ultra-violence-ante a welcome notch or two.
I have heard it espoused that he also likes to write this type of self-contained, high-octane yet relatively simplistic plots, because they are just begging to be adapted into films, but I don't personally believe that is his primary motivation at all. I just think he's found a groove of writing style he's really enjoying, and has decided to run with it, simple as that. And with this material and indeed much of his current output, he is once again beginning to hit the levels of sophistication of superhero storytelling he achieved with WANTED (note: now available again without the horrific and ill-advised movie cover).
So, all you really need to know about this work, for me to avoid spoiling it in any way, is that a group of super-villains lead by the charismatic Johnny Bolt are planning a very audacious heist, to get their old school chum and mentor, The Heist, out of a rather tight spot. He's racked up huge gambling debts with the vicious Salamander, who is planning on wiping out said debts by wiping out The Heist, unless he can settle up pronto. But the gang of veteran villains know that they've pretty much got no chance of pulling a huge caper off in the USA these days, where the myriad law enforcement agencies, not to mention dearth of superheroes, have made their profession somewhat untenable.
Therefore it's off to sunny Spain, to target one of their own, the now retired 'daddy' of all super-villains, richer than Croesus and you don't get to be that wealthy without keeping both eyes firmly fixed on your stash The Bastard. And errr... as you might expect, he hasn't earned that name for his sunny disposition and forgiving nature. Cue a classic (super-)heist caper that has heart and humour, plus more than a little fisticuffs to boot... and boots to the head too.